‘An excellent present for anyone even vaguely interested in the stars, or the history of exploration, or sailing small boats over big oceans, or come to think of it anyone at all. And buy a copy for yourself while you’re about it – ‘Sextant’ reviewed in Marine Quarterly, December 2014

Saecwen at sea

Writing in that excellent British magazine, Marine Quarterly, Toby al-Shasli says this of my book Sextant :

It ‘is partly an account of [the author’s] transatlantic voyage with Colin McMullen in Saecwen (see above) back in 1973. More importantly, though, the voyage provides an account of the development of celestial navigation from earliest times to the present day [through] the lives and adventures of some of the explorers who mapped the globe’.

Sextant ‘gives the reader the idea that he is having a conversation with someone who knows his subject intimately, but wears the knowledge lightly’.  al-Shasli comments in passing that it is ‘better written and more interesting’ than Dava Sobel’s bestselling Longitude – and that it corrects some of her errors, notably her unfair treatment of the great astronomer Maskelyne.

‘The end result is a work that is a useful history of astro, and an excellent introduction to some of the great names in exploration.  It will make an excellent present for anyone even vaguely interested in the stars, or the history of exploration, or sailing small boats over big oceans, or come to think of it anyone at all.  And buy a copy for yourself while you’re about it.’

Well, thank you very kindly Toby al-Shasli!

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4 thoughts on “‘An excellent present for anyone even vaguely interested in the stars, or the history of exploration, or sailing small boats over big oceans, or come to think of it anyone at all. And buy a copy for yourself while you’re about it – ‘Sextant’ reviewed in Marine Quarterly, December 2014

  1. Bought 4 already!!! for various friends still at sea, one way or the other, and of course I have mine on my kindle with me always.
    Three Cheers!

  2. Dear David,
    Got your book for Christmas and read it lying on the beach near Melbourne (where I now live). Thoroughly enjoyed the book especially since I used a sextant (Heath and Co Hezzanith) myself in the 70’s whilst being a deck officer (using long hand calculations). The recent grounding of the Volvo ocean racer Vestas Wind on a well marked reef north of Mauritius shows that even professional sailors rely too much on electronic navigation aids (in this case by not enlarging their electronic chart enough). I hope to sail around Cape Horn later this year on the bark Europa to commemorate the discovery of the Horn by Schouten and LeMaire 400 years ago. Hopefully I’ll be able to reconnect with the use of a sextant again.
    Warm regards

    Peter van Duyn

    1. Thanks very much Peter – so glad you enjoyed the book! Colin’s sextant was a Hezzanith. Needless to say I share your views about over-reliance on e-navigation. Your forthcoming passage round Cape Horn sounds exciting and I hope you get a chance to take some good sights.

      All the best

      David

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